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  3. 10. General
  4. 10.3 Information sharing for service delivery coordination
  5. Key steps
  6. 2. Decide when information may be shared

2. Decide when information may be shared

Sharing the right information in a timely and open way allows key agencies involved in the lives of children and families to better respond to their safety, wellbeing and best interests.

The legislation enables information sharing without consent by specific agencies for particular purposes.

2.1 Who is authorised to share information

The Child Protection Act, section 159M, lists the following entities, which may share information without consent for particular purposes:

  • the chief executive or an authorised officer
  • prescribed entities
  • service providers.

Prescribed entities are:

  • adult corrective services
  • community services
  • disability services
  • education
  • public health
  • housing services
  • Queensland Police Service
  • Mater Health Services
  • accredited non-state schools
  • specialist service providers
  • other entities that provide a service to children and families.

A specialist service provider is a prescribed entity defined as a non-government entity funded to provide a service to a relevant child or the child’s family. Examples included Family and Child Connect Services, Intensive Family Support services, Assessment Service Connect and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Wellbeing Services.

A service provider is defined as:

  • licensed care service, including placement services such as foster and kinship care services and residential care services
  • an independent entity for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, and
  • a person providing services to a child or family, for example a community controlled health service, a General Practitioner, a therapist or counsellor in private practice

2.2 Clarify the purpose for sharing information

Information may only be shared for particular purposes and if it will help the recipient with a particular purpose listed in the Child Protection Act 1999. When sharing information, ensure the particular purpose is clearly identified.

The following table describes when Child Safety may give and request information from prescribed entities and service providers under the enabling provisions.

 Child Safety may give information to prescribed entities and service providersPrescribed entities and service providers may share information with Child Safety
Intake and Investigation (159MA & MB) To help them decide whether they can share information with Child Safety to help with investigation of harm or risk or harm. To help:
  • investigate allegations of harm or risk of harm,
  • assess the need for protection
  • decide whether to take action
  • decide whether there is reasonable suspicion a child is in need of protection (pre-notification check)
  • investigate or assess before the birth of a child whether the child will need protection after they are born.
Assessment and planning for care needs(159MC) About a child in need of protection to help them to:
  • participate in case planning
  • assess or respond to the health, educational or care needs
  • make plans or decisions to or provide services
  • help Child Safety to offer help and support to a pregnant woman under section 21A.
To help Child Safety do the following for a relevant child:
  • develop or assess a case plan
  • assess or respond to the health, educational or care needs
  • make plans or decisions to or provide services or
  • offer help and support to a pregnant woman under section 21A.
Decreasing the likelihood of a child needing protection(159MD) To help:
  • assess or respond to the health, educational or care needs to decrease the likelihood of a child becoming a child in need of protection
  • make plans or decisions to or provide or offer to provide services to decrease the likelihood of a child becoming a child in need of protection.
 
Facilitating participation of a child (159ME) To an independent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entity for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child, to help the independent entity:
  • facilitate the participation of Aboriginal child or the child’s family in making plans or decisions
  • provide or offer to provide services to the child or child’s family.
To help:
  • the child or child’s family participate in making plans or decisions
  • Child Safety provide or offer to provide services to the child or child’s family.

Unborn children

Prescribed entities and service providers may give information to Child Safety about an unborn child to help:

  • with the investigation or assessment, before the birth of the child, whether the child will need protection after he or she is born
  • Child Safety offer help and support to a pregnant women under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 21A.

Child Safety may give information to prescribed entities and service providers if it will help Child Safety to offer help and support to a pregnant woman under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 21A.

2.3 How to share information

When deciding whether it is safe, possible and practical to obtain the consent of the parent, child or other person, consider and assess information such as:

  • a current threat a family may go into hiding or abduct a child
  • previous serious assaults or threats to assault others
  • attempted or threatened suicide
  • concerns a child or another person could be coached or coerced
  • a parent or a young person cannot be located in a timely way and an urgent response is needed to ensure a child’s safety or well being
  • a child or adult needs urgent medical care
  • the need for urgent information to ensure a child’s safety or wellbeing.
  • domestic and family violence

To ensure full participation in decision-making and informed consent:

  • provide individuals with enough information to make the decision and understand what they are agreeing to
  • ensure consent is given freely and voluntarily
  • identify potential barriers to participation in decision making such as disability, mental illness, age, culture or language
  • engage interpreters where needed
  • use plain language and do not use technical words and jargon
  • use developmentally appropriate approaches to ensure children and young people are given the opportunity and supported to participate in decision making
  • seek the views and consent of a person’s representative, where appropriate.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families

When sharing information about and working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders children and families ensure that:

  • they are given the opportunity to meaningfully participate in decision making with culturally appropriate and safe services
  • they are informed about their right to have an independent person to support their participation in decision making
  • their nominated independent person is involved
  • appropriate cultural advice and resources informs engagement

Refer to Chapter 10.1 Decision making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Sharing verbal or written information

Information can be shared either verbally or in writing. In many circumstances, information will be shared verbally between service providers, for example, to facilitate the assessment, planning, implementation and review of a case plan. However, some entities will only respond to written requests for information.

Where a prescribed entity or service provider requires a written request for information:

  • email the entity with the details of the information needed, the purpose the information is needed and identify the relevant section of the information sharing provisions
  • save and label the request and response in the relevant event in ICMS.

When giving information

When sharing information ensure the recipient is advised:

  • the information is only being shared for the listed purpose
  • why the information is being provided
  • that the information is to be kept confidential, and
  • the information must not be used or disclosed and that doing so may have harmful consequences for the child or another person
  • inappropriate disclosure of the information may be a breach of the confidentiality provisions in the Child Protection Act 1999 and/or the Information Privacy Act 2009
  • inappropriate disclosure may also be an offence under theChild Protection Act 1999.

2.4 Keep accurate records

When receiving or providing information:

  • label and save the information sharing request and response in the appropriate ICMS event
  • record what information was shared, with whom it was shared and the reason it was shared
  • for QPS information, use the case note type “Info received from QPS” so it is readily accessible
  • record whether consent has been received and from whom or record reasons why consent was not sought or obtained, why it was unsafe, impossible or impractical to seek or obtain consent